A farmer has been banned from keeping livestock after an investigation by North Yorkshire Trading Standards officers revealed appalling neglect and suffering.

Hayden Fortune, of Pyethornes Farm, Wigglesworth, Skipton, pleaded guilty to numerous animal health offences at York Magistrates’ Court last month and was sentenced yesterday (April 18).

In April 2022, officers from the trading standards animal health team visited Pyethornes Farm and discovered cattle and pigs living in appalling conditions. No feed, water or dry bedding was available to the pigs and cattle on site and numerous carcases were left in various states of decay around the pens, which still housed live animals.

Conditions were such that it was not possible to identify the exact number of carcases on site. To reach them all, officers would have had to climb over mounds of dead pigs and enter pens in which livestock were standing in knee-deep manure. It is estimated that the number of carcases exceeded 300.

This action by trading standards was to protect the animals and ensure disease control procedures were in place, thus protecting the wider environment and maintaining the integrity of the human food chain.

North Yorkshire Council’s executive member for regulatory services, Cllr Greg White, said: “The vast majority of livestock farmers value their animals and ensure they are treated well. The scenes of appalling neglect and suffering at Pyethornes Farm were dystopian and Mr Fortune’s abject failure to meet any reasonable standard of animal care and hygiene is totally unacceptable.

“In North Yorkshire, we are serious about maintaining good standards of animal welfare. We will always press for the toughest action against those who fail to meet their legal obligation to properly look after farm animals. We welcome the magistrates’ recommendation that Mr Fortune should be prevented from keeping livestock in the future.”

Fortune faced was charged with numerous offences under the Animal Welfare Act, including: • Causing unnecessary suffering to pigs by exposing them to the carcases of others, maintaining them in flooded pens with lurid water, providing no dry area and a lack of feed and drinking water.

• Having a level of manure in the bovine area that made animal movement difficult, exposing cattle to the carcases of others, providing no dry area, and providing a lack of feed and drinking water.

• Housing animals in a dangerous environment with hazardous material, including sharp wood and metal.

Fortune received a 12-week prison sentence suspended for 18 months and was ordered to pay £3,000 compensation and £1,000 towards costs. He was disqualified from keeping livestock. The disqualification was suspended for 28 days to allow alternative arrangements to be made for livestock currently on the farm.

The Animal Welfare Act 2006 states that owners and keepers of farmed animals have a duty of care to their animals and must make sure they meet their needs by providing a suitable environment and place to live, a suitable diet and protection from pain, injury, suffering and disease. Tight controls also exist on the disposal of animal carcases to reduce the risk associated to the spread of disease that may affect animal and human health.